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It is a longstanding myth that continuously operating fluorescent lights is cheaper than turning them off for brief periods, according to Michael D. Smith, energy management engineer.
When fluorescent lights were developed in the 1940s, design compromises caused them to burn out more quickly if turned on and off frequently. As a result, many companies left the lights on day and night.
Constant operation is no longer necessary because modern fluorescent lights use very little start-up energy. Turning them off when leaving a room — even if only for a few minutes — actually helps them last longer and lowers lighting costs, Smith said.
Lighting comprises one-half of Miami’s electric costs. Smith encourages faculty, staff and students to help lower energy costs by turning off lights in unused rooms and sharing rooms whenever possible.
Date Published: 12/02/1999